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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook area reports: international 1972
Year 1972, Volume 3 (1972)

Rathjen, John A.
Canada,   pp. 187-207 ff. PDF (2.6 MB)


Page 196

196 MINERALS YEARBOOK, 1972 
COMMODITY REVIEW 
METALS 
 Aluminum.—Smelter production of primary aluminum dropped from 1,017,000
tons in 1971 to 907,000 tons during 1972 indicating a reduction of approximately
11% for the period. This decline can be attributed to continuing voluntary
cutbacks which were further aggravated by a 10-week strike at the Baie Comeau
plant of Canadian Reynolds Metals. The Aluminium Company of Canada Ltd. (Alcan)
operated four smelters in Quebec and one in British Columbia producing a
total of 798,000 tons while Canadian Reynolds generated 127,000 tons at their
Quebec operation. At yearend the industry was producing at 88% of rated capacity.
 Since Canada has no economic deposits of bauxite, an estimated 2,450,000
tons was imported for production of alumina at Alcan's Arvida plant. This
raw material came essentially from Guyana, 1,350,000 tons; Surinam, 308,000
tons; and Sierra Leone, 381,000 tons. The balance of 410,000 tons came from
Indonesia, Malaysia, and other countries. 
 In addition, approximately 726,000 tons of alumina was imported from the
United States, Jamaica, and Australia. The alumina was utilized at Alcan's
Kitimat smelter in British Columbia and at the Canadian Reynolds B-aie Comeau
smelter in Quebec. 
 Domestic consumption of aluminum in 1972 was estimated to be 281,000 tons,
representing an increase of 10% over that of 1971. This continued growth
of domestic demand has precipitated industrial expansion. Announcements by
Canadian Reynolds of a $4,800,000 investment in its rolling mill at Cape-de-la-Madeleine,
Quebec, and a doubling of capacity at the Laval extrusion works of Alcan
appeared during 
1972. 
 Expoits of primary ingot during 1972 were down 10% to a total of 726,000
tons. The level of shipments to the United States was maintained but those
to the United Kingdom, Japan, and West Germany declined considerably. 
 Columbium and Tantalum.—St. Lawrence Columbium and Metals Corp. near
Oka, Quebec, continued as the sole producer of columbium in Canada. In 1972
the corporation produced approximately 
1,769 tons of columbium pentoxide (Cb205) valued at $4 million. This figure
represents a marked increase over the 1971 period when the company produced
1,058 tons valued at $2.4 million. 
 Following a period of low demand and oversupply which began in 1970 and
extended into the first quarter of 1972, demand throughout the world increased
sharply. The sudden increase in requirements reflected recovery in the world
steel industry and increased use of high-strength low-alloy (HSLA) steel.
HSLA is used principally in the manufacture of structural and pipeline steels.
 With this increased demand the published price for columbium was increased
three - times during 1972. In March the price was raised from $0.95 to $1.12
per pound of Ch2O5. Continued demand pressure pushed the price up to $1.24
in July and finally to $1.39 per pound of Cb205 in October, where it remained
for the balance of the year. 
 Most of the columbium produced in Canada is exported to the United States,
the United Kingdom, and Western Europe, where it is consumed in the production
of specialty and alloy steels. Canada supplies approximately 20% of the world
requirements for this commodity. 
 Canada continued as the world's largest producer of tantalum from the Bernic
Lake, Manitoba, mine of the Tantalum Mining -Corporation of Canada Ltd. (Tanco),
an operating subsidiary of Chemalloy Minerals Ltd. Shipments of tantalum
as Ta2O5 in 1972 amounted to 325,000 pounds valued at approximately 
$2.3 million. This is somewhat less than the 1971 shipments which were 450,000
pounds with a value of about $2.9 million. Tanco is the principal supplier
of tantalum to the U.S. market, supplying approximately 46% of requirements.
Precise data on tantalum contained in concentrates are difficult to estimate
because of its combination with columbium in varying proportions. 
 Ore reserves have not changed materially since 1971 and at the current rate
of production are adequate for 8 to 10 years. 
 Copper.—Production of copper from Canadian mines continued to rise
during 1972 setting a new record of 726,000 tons, 


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